Taya Kyle, the widow of former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” subject Chris Kyle, will be one of the first witnesses to testify Wednesday in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, the veteran accused of killing her husband and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range outside Fort Worth, Texas. The prosecution will also call Littlefield’s mother, Judy Littlefield to the stand, according to reports. District Judge Jason Cashon said both Taya Kyle, 40, and Judy Littlefield could remain in court to watch the trial after they testify, according to the Associated Press. It’s unclear if either individual will play any additional role in the proceedings.
Routh faces multiple murder charges in connection with the shooting deaths of Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35, in 2013. Kyle and Littlefield had taken Routh, a troubled war veteran who served in Iraq and Haiti, to the shooting range in a bid to help him through psychological problems, the Los Angeles Times reported. Prosecutors will seek a sentence of life without parole for Routh, while his defense team will argue the 27-year-old is not guilty by reason of insanity.
Kyle detailed his four tours of service in Iraq in his memoir “American Sniper,” which was made last year into a movie starring actor Bradley Cooper. Kyle earned the nickname “the Devil of Ramadi” for his decorated service overseas and was honorably discharged in 2009, according to USA Today. The “American Sniper” movie was a critical and box office success, earning nearly $300 million at the box office. Routh’s defense team has questioned whether it will be possible for him to receive a fair trial given the attention Kyle’s life story has received.
Attorneys for the prosecution and defense struggled this week to identify jurors who could serve impartially on the trial. Judge Cashon initially requested more than 800 potential jurors ahead of jury selection – more than four times the usual number, according to Fox News. Potential participants were grilled on whether they had seen the “American Sniper” movie, read Kyle’s memoir, had ties to the military or a particular bias on the use of guns.